Follow by Email

Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sermon Notes - Fifth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 30 June 2013, Anno Domini



And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. St. Matthew 19:16
  


The Fifth Sunday after Trinity.

G
The Collect.
RANT, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

           Saint Matthew tells us of a young man who came to Jesus seeking to know what he might DO to inherit eternal life. In the account Mark gives us of this same ruler, we are told that he “came running” to Christ. Though there is much to be said about how we approach Christ, there is far more meaning in how we are changed by the encounter.

            We are told in John 3 that Nicodemus came under cover of darkness, and left with the light of heaven burning warmly in his heart. Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, came bearing the grief of a dying young daughter, and found his daughter restored to life. Many came to Christ for healing, and received that healing of the body, but left with the same dark hearts with which they came.

            Some men come to Christ in the midst of the hell of battle, standing in the mire of a foxhole, and pleading among mournful mutter of the battlefield for salvation. Others may have come to Christ is the midst of affluence attended by an empty misery that revealed a vacant hole in their soul that only Christ can fill. Moreover, this rich ruler was young, according to the text. Jesus has just completed laying his hands of love on the little children to bless them, and then comes this young man who is, beyond doubt, quite morally good and respectable. However, though a young man has had less exposure to temptation than an old one, no one is without guilt – no one has perfectly kept the Law of God. 

            Some come to Christ out of poverty, and others out of opulence; but it is not the manner in which we come that is decisive, but the manner in which we leave. This young man probably desires the best of heaven now that he has acquired the best of the world. It has always seemed logical to his material mind that anything that is valuable must be acquired through some great labor or price. Of course, he is right – but who would be qualified to pay the price for the free grace made available in Christ. Did Jesus not pay with his last measure of blood for us?

            The divine mind of Jesus sees beyond the outward appearance into the heart. He will test this young man’s faith and desire. Let us examine the text as written:

            And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? This young man came to the right Person and for the right reason. Once we have come face to face with Christ, how should we present our petitions? Should we call Jesus a good teacher (Good Master), or should we recognize Him as our Lord? This improper address to Jesus was the first error of the young ruler. What was the second?

            “. . . . what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? I can understand the young man’s naiveté in believing that he might DO something to earn his own salvation. This had always been the approach to gain wealth in his family. When I was a child, I, too, wondered what I must give for Christ to save me. Our society is a performance driven society. There will always be a fair price for a loaf of bread produced by the Baker Hanson. But the cost of the Bread of Heaven cannot be reckoned in earthly measure. It cost the Father His only Begotten Son, and the Son His own life’s Blood. How could we ever begin to place a value on THAT? The question itself presumes that good works can gain Heaven. This also is true, but the good work must be done by the Son of God and not by you or me. There is nothing that you or I can do to earn salvation for that price has already been paid. The young man did not recognize Jesus as the Son of God which is apparent by the manner of addressing Him; however, Jesus will reveal that error promptly. Now see the Lord’s response:

            Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God? This verse has been misinterpreted time and again by men who have missed the point just as the young ruler had done. Is Jesus saying that He is not good? Heaven forbid, NO! If there is only One who is good, and that is God, then certainly Jesus is good because Jesus IS GOD! So Jesus is fathoming the depths of the young man’s understanding just as He has fathomed the depths of your understanding prior to your own salvation.

            Jesus then tests the young man’s understanding, not of Himself, but of the means of salvation: “……but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Jesus is presenting salvation in its most simplistic form. Simply keep ALL of the Commandments perfectly, and you need not worry of doing more. Of course, Jesus knows that no man can be worthy of perfect obedience to the Commandments of God. We too often try to bargain with God for His blessing: “Lord, if you will only grant this one request, I promise to faithfully attend church” or some other act of works. Jesus asks this young man this question not only for his own good, but that of those listening by.  The young man believes that he has been good and moral. And by the standards of the world, he probably has been so; but the standards of heaven are not the same as those of the world. The righteousness required to gain the gates of Heaven must be PERFECT righteousness! No man can be so.

            The man’s response exposes his sheer ignorance of the obedience required by God. He saith unto him, Which? Can we pick and choose which Commandments of God are worthy of obedience? The response of Jesus is intended to include ALL of the Commandments, but Jesus only makes direct reference to those that involve our duties and obligations to others. Jesus, for a purpose, has withheld stating the Commandments that express our duties and obligations to God.           Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. You may recall that once, when challenged by a scribe regarding the most important commandment, Jesus responded: The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29-31) Jesus, at that time gave both parts of our obligation under the law 0 first to God, and then to our fellow man. He summarized the law according to Deuteronomy 6:4,5 and Leviticus 19:18. So why did Christ, here, only quote half the lawful duty of man? As I mentioned earlier, Jesus is leading the young man to recognize his lostness for, if we fail to recognize that we are lost and condemned by our own lack or righteousness, we can never come to terms with our need for repentance. Let us see how the matter will come to light.

            The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Though it is unlikely that this man has perfectly kept these quoted commandments, it is true that, even if he had, there is a greater one that he has omitted in obedience. Jesus felt compassion on the tortured mind of the man. He gave him one more opportunity to open his mind and heart to Christ: If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Remember: only perfection is acceptable in God’s Heaven. Jesus, knowing the heart of the man, suggested the very Commandment which the man had so egregiously broken from his youth – the very FIRST COMMANDMENT!  I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (Deut 5:6-7) Jesus is attempting to show the man that he has not even kept the FIRST Commandment, much less the others. He has allowed something to come between him and his God – that something (idol) is RICHES.

            Did the man understand now, or, like many sinners, did he choose not to understand? But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. The young man could not argue with the truth that Jesus exposed, but he was inclined to his idol over the salvation that Jesus offered. The Christian is like the earth bathed in the radiance of the Sun (God). It has life and light everywhere the warm rays of the Sun appear. But, if any object (Lunar eclipse) is allowed to come between the earth and the Sun, the earth will be in darkness. That is the same darkness of any man who allows wealth, sex, or mind altering drugs to come between him and our Lord. He will remain in darkness if he holds to the idol and rejects his Maker. In the end, the young man was no different from Judas Iscariot who went out on the night of his betrayal into eternal darkness. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. (John 13:30) So do all who forsake Christ: O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters. (Jer 17:13) Perhaps the same names that Christ may have written upon the earth before the accusers of the Woman taken in Adultery.

            Are you amazed that the young man was not accounted righteous before God? If so, you are in good company for the disciples, too, were amazed: When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? We judge books by the cover and people by the outward appearance, but God looks INSIDE the book, and INSIDE the heart to judge.

            But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. I have known some really rough and untamed men in the profession of arms over my long career with the military. They were men who used vulgar and unseemly language and who were accustomed to the vicissitudes and dangers of many battles, but, contrary to my own judgment of these men, some were changed in a heartbeat from a ruffian to a humble saint of God. That which may appear impossible with man is certainly possible with God for He is a God of impossible results!

            Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
As was usual, Peter spoke more out of emotion and ignorance than true understanding. When had Peter forsaken all? Did Peter not yet cherish his life? Did he not deny Christ three times the night of His betrayal? Peter, too, is thinking that he was deserving some special consideration for that which he felt he had done above and beyond the call of duty. In short, he believed in the false works of supererogation. It is not enough to follow Christ a certain distance and no more. The rich young ruler had done as much. But Christ expects His disciples to follow Him ALL the way. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

            In the wise counsel of God, there are many who appear first in the eyes of man but are last in the eyes of God. The overriding point is this: We shall lose NOTHING in following God. We shall receive a hundred fold of that which we surrender for Him. But do not jockey for first place in the Kingdom of Heaven, else you will have the mirage disappear at the last moment.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Devotion on Proverbs (Chapter Fourteen – Part Four v22-28) – 29 June 2013, Anno Domini




22 Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good. 23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. 24 The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly. 25 A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies. 26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. 28 In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince. (Prov 14:22-28)

            Not only ‘Behavior Modification’ but also a fundamental change of the heart is the object of God in His dealings with mankind. Had man listened to God and obeyed, in the Garden at Eden, such a process would not be necessary since a heart devoted to God was already innate in the man and woman that God created. But behavior is definitely an outward sign of the inward righteousness of the Christian. Like the most precious and brilliant gem, happiness is not found in the expected places else everyone would be wealthy with gems and happiness. Our happiness is not nearly so much dependent upon that which, in this world, we GAIN as it is to that which we GIVE. In the natural psychology of the carnal mind, this principle is reversed. The devil has done his work well.

            The historian, Gibbon, tells us that Abdulrahman, of the Muslim Caliphs of Moorish Spain, built for his pleasure the city, palace, and gardens of Zehra, beautifying them with the costliest marbles, sculptures, gold, and pearls. He had sixty-three hundred persons—wives, concubines, and eunuchs—at his service. His guard had belts and scimitars studded with gold. At his death, the following authentic memorial was found: "I have now reigned above fifty years in victory and peace. . . . Riches, honors, power, pleasure—the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to fourteen." Only fourteen days of happiness out of a long life of opulence. It would seem sure evidence that opulence does not define happiness.

            That which is done out of willful intent is not an error, except in the degree that it deviates from the will of God. 22 Do they not err that devise evil? but mercy and truth shall be to them that devise good. Deliberate error may not seem error to its fabricator. Lacking any higher nature, imbued by God, the hands of error are guided by the fool to whom the hands belong. There were some tribes the missionaries discovered in New Guinea who believed that treachery against others was the very highest virtue. Such evil foolishness is born out of centuries of spiritual darkness. But the people of those tribes have a greater justification for their wicked designs for they had not light previously. But what of nations and people who have been showered in Light and then turn to darkness with deliberate intent? What is the way wherein we may discover the rich grain mercy and truth? All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. (Psalms 25:10) Walking in the Light of the Lord, we are walking in His pure Ways of mercy, truth, righteousness, and obedience. Our devices are not only manifested in our outward works, but our inward desires.

            23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. It is not in the nature of man or beast to labor without some profitable end in sight. A beast is spared the rod when he labors according to his masters directions. A man is spared the condemnation of society when he earns his bread by the sweat of his brow rather than from the stealth of his card game. Great historical structures such as the Great Pyramid, the Roman Coliseum, St Paul’s Cathedral, or Westminster Abbey did not appear from the mist of a dream though the dream did precede the labor that was necessary to construct them. There is no structure in the world that can be boasted to have been built by the lips and bluster of the fool. If we were forced to live in structures constructed by talk alone, we would be sleeping in the moist dews of the morning. A constant brag and bluster delays the labor necessary to bring the dream to fulfillment. At last, we are gone from the earth and the building has not been built. But there is a greater building that we must be constructing while life remains – that is the building of faith and love, and the Temple of God that is made without hands. But this Temple was not constructed without intense labor – it cost the Lord Jesus Christ much sweat and tears to construct for us. We only need to take tenancy there.

            24 The crown of the wise is their riches: but the foolishness of fools is folly. A crown is an outward sign of authority and favor. In the case of a king, he is a king whether he wears his crown daily or not. But the crown is a formal and outward recognition of authority of the king, or favor granted by the Crown. What do we call a son or daughter of a king? Do we not call them princes and princesses? The wise will always be rich even if those riches are not openly displayed. But the wise will always follow the Star of Christ as did the Magi. All who follow Christ are son and daughters of the King of Kings. Therefore, our crown is wisdom and righteousness. Folly is akin to bedlam - it makes no sense for first-day medical student to attempt brain surgery. That must be left to the skilled hands of one well trained and experienced. Our wisdom grows with time and experience. But the fool has no anchor for his soul. Incidentally, do you know where the term 'bedlam' originated? There was a hospital in London for the mentally insane called Bethlehem hospital. The locals abbreviated the English pronunciation to bed'lam. There was always a great deal of screaming and yelling coming from the walls of Bethlehem hospital, so bedlam came to mean confusion and folly.

            25 A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies. The word 'but' in scripture is a mighty important term. It represents a total and often unexpected contrast in circumstances. Look at the manner in which the great Commander, Naaman, is depicted: Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. (2 Kings 5:1) All of the power and pelf of the world amounts to nothing if we are afflicted with a deadly and incurable disease. All alike on earth were afflicted with the leprosy of sin at birth. As with Naaman, God is the only Physician to treat that malady.

            May I ask a potentially embarrassing question? Are you a true witness, and, if so, how many souls have you delivered? Or, will you face Christ on the last day empty handed? Suggested in the context of this verse is the fact that it is sincerity and truth that will deliver souls and not deceit. The TV programming is replete with deceitful ministers who seem to limit the power of God to act by the size of the offering posted to them. If we are true witnesses, SOMEONE will be persuaded by our testimony to come to Christ.

            26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. We do not typically see confidence defined by fear in our social vernacular; but there is no contradiction as used by God in this verse. If we did not fear our earthly fathers, it would be because those fathers were weak and impotent - unable to defend us from all dangers. Our fear of a loving Father in Heaven is a healthy reverence and respect based upon knowledge and wisdom of His Person and Word. We shall ALWAYS find safety under the wings of God. But we must remember Him both day and night: My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.  Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. (Psalms 63:5-7)

            27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. The Fountain is the source of the Water of Life. We cannot know God if we have not feared Him. You may not be well-acquainted with the law because you are not a criminal; but a criminal has an intimate familiarity with the law. If a man or woman is able to live a life in perfect obedience to the law of God, they may not fear God. But there does not exist such a man or woman - all have sinned and come short of the righteousness of God. So, like the common criminal who fears the judge, the sinner must fear the Judge of Souls. That fear is changed into love and reverence as the relationship grows in depth. Our fear of offending against the justice of God drives us from the gaping abyss and TO the Narrow Gate of Heaven.

            28 In the multitude of people is the king's honour: but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince. When the multitudes of the citizens of a kingdom love their king, the king is greatly honored for their devotion. It is a wholesome reflection on the goodness of the king that his people love him. The degree of devotion of the people are the barometer by which the virtue of the king is measured. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Prov 29:2) We have the most glorious King of all Eternity - kind and gracious. In His Kingdom, every soul will love and reverence Him, for all others shall be with the Prince of Darkness. When the people are in want and despair, it is the king who bears the guilt. Not only will the king come to ruin, but his prince will likewise be deprived on his inheritance. Let me so that no Prince or Princess of the Kingdom of God shall be cast down for the King of Kings abides forever.

29 June 2013 - Special Prayer Requests


Nearing the end of their time here on earth
Saundra is in ICU with congestive heart failure after a heart operation.  She is aged and frail.  Saundra is near the end of her tom hear on earth.  Please pray for comfort, understanding, strength and guidance for Saundra and her family who will of necessity remain behind.  Pray for the love of God to stay foremost in their hearts.


Departed
John Bylo passed away the evening of 27 June 2013 after a brief fight with pneumonia after radiation treatment then surgery for esophageal cancer. Please give thanks for his time here on earth and pray in particular for his wife Debe and their family. 

           John was a Rev Canon in the Anglican Episcopal Church on the staff of St. George's Anglican Church, Ventura, CA. He also has worked diligently in theological education and church planting in the Southwest, and so was appointed Missionary Canon with Special Responsibility for the States of California, Nevada, and Alaska in December 2010.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Devotion on Proverbs (Chapter Fourteen – Part Three v14-21) – 28 June 2013, Anno Domini




14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. 15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. 16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident. 17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated. 18 The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. 19 The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous. 
20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. 21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. (Prov 14:14-21)

            The theme of these verses today reflect PERSONALITY patterns of both the wicked and the good. The opening salvo of the text is a blast against the backslider. Backsliding is not a NEW phenomenon among many who have previously born a strong testimony; but backsliding does bring into question the prior salvation of the backslider. The author of "It is Well with my Soul," Horatio Spafford, had a seemingly invincible faith, yet ended his life believing that he was the new Messiah. In the late 1800's, an ardent Christian evangelist wrote a pamphlet entitled, Come to Jesus. It had immediate and broad success in bringing many souls to Christ; however, in later years, the same evangelist became embroiled in a theological debate with an opponent of his doctrine. The evangelist wrote an article denouncing his opponent in the strongest terms of invective and condemnation. He asked a friend what title he should place on the article, His friend responded, "Call it, 'Go to the Devil' by the author of 'Come to Jesus.'  Needless to say, the evangelist repented and did not publish the polemic. 14 The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. If we are climbing a slippery slope and grasping a branch along the way, we will backslide if we lose our grip on the branch. The same is true spiritually. Jesus Christ is our Branch. If we let go of Him, we will fall back to a lower place than we were before we came to know Him. When we let go of God and take confidence in self, we have fallen from the grace of God.

            A good man, on the other hand, has emptied his heart of self and filled it with Christ - and no evil treasures can exist in a heart occupied by Christ, only good treasures of eternal worth.

            15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. Are not mobs comprised of the simple-minded whose minds are as weak as the chaff in a hurricane. They are blown about by every wind of doctrine. That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Eph 4:14) Such simpletons fill their minds with the sensation and the devious words of men to the detriment of faith. They hurry from one great (supposed) revival to another to see the advertised sign from heaven. In fact, there is not but one sign that will suffice: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:39-40) If our nation is not currently an evil and adulterous generation, then I must say that Sodom, too, should not have been destroyed.

            16 A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident. The wise recognize evil as poison that will deprive them of the life offered in Christ. They will fear evil as a Bedouin fears the wilderness cesspool. If the wise find themselves in the neighborhood of evil, they will immediately depart from that place for it is dangerous. But the foolish one will not recognize the enemy of his soul in the face of the evil he embraces. All that he thinks and does seems the very best in the eyes of the fool. He will rage against the Sovereignty of God and plead the cause of the Devil.

            17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated. The mind of the fool is ruled by heated emotion. Such emotions of anger or careless abandon overrides his reason and logic (if he ever had any). There are cultures that have lived far from God who experience many murders and acts of violence for the least cause. Though there may be "honor among thieves," there is not very much of it. Their mutual honor extends only so far as their interests in maintaining it. If the profit is assured, the wicked will stab their best confederate in the back for a block of salt.

            18 The simple inherit folly: but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. The inherited folly of the simple is simply the reward handed down to them by the endowment of their investments in folly. How so are the prudent crowned with knowledge? A crown represents 'authority.' Knowledge gives power AND authority. Lack of hidden knowledge has destroyed bridges of steel. Several decades ago, the Shah of Iran desired to modernize his highways and road system. He hired top line German engineers to come to Iran and build strong bridges to replace the ancient earthen bridges of the past. The German engineers were baffled at the lack of logic in the way the old bridges had been constructed. Even over dry river beds (wadis), the Iranians had made a great dip on both sides of the bridge, and then made the bridge to arch over the dry riverbed. Shaking their heads, the German engineers destroyed the old bridges and built perfectly straight bridges across the wadi's. All were very pleased that they had contracted such wizards of engineering to build their beautiful bridges. However, when the snows melted from the Zagros Mountain range and filled the dry wadi's with torrents of water, there was no dip either side of the German bridges, and those beautiful structures were swept away in a tiny percentage of time it took to construct them. Right knowledge is Godly power and authority!

            The sons of Jacob sold their young brother, Joseph, into slavery. They meant no good will at all in the act. But Joseph was a shadow and type of Christ. He, too, went down into Egypt as Christ had done. He was treated badly until his wisdom and knowledge were recognized by the Pharaoh. When the famine struck, Jacob sent his other sons into Egypt to buy grain. These unrighteous sons had to, at last, bow the knee to the wise and righteous Joseph. 19 The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous. Every knee shall bow and every lip confess Christ at the day of His choosing; however, the wicked will bow before the gate of the righteous. What is the gate of the righteous? Is it not the gates of Heaven?

            20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. This fact demonstrates the weakness of human nature. Why is it that the wealthy of the church always seem to enjoy greater favor of the pastor than the poor? Is it not wickedness that prompts this reaction? For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:  Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?  (James 2:2-4) The rich, like the Prodigal Son, have a multitude of friends until the riches are exhausted. Then it is time to go to work in the pig sty, is it not?

            21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. I am, by no means, wealthy in the things of the world; however, God has blessed me with sufficient resources to satisfy all of my needs and more. There have been times when a poor and needy fellow has come begging relief for his great need. Knowing the man has foolishly squandered his increase in times past, I often feel a wicked reluctance to help him. It is then that I realize that men go begging alms of kings and princes, not of beggars and paupers. The wisdom we have managed in saving for the rainy day is also a gift of God - a gift not easily recognized by the underprivileged. So we must always share our blessings with those in need of food, clothing and shelter - but not of alcohol or drugs. The after-glow of having helped a less fortunate soul is a Godly comfort that only the generous can know. Of course, we will keep in mind that charity is not a function of the state but of the individual.

28 June 2013 - Special Prayer Request


Departed
John Bylo passed away the evening of 27 June 2013 after a brief fight with pneumonia after radiation treatment then surgery for esophageal cancer. Please give thanks for his time here on earth and pray in particular for his wife Debe and their family. 

John was a Rev Canon in the Anglican Episcopal Church on the staff of St. George's Anglican Church, Ventura, CA. He also has worked diligently in theological education and church planting in the Southwest, and so was appointed Missionary Canon with Special Responsibility for the States of California, Nevada, and Alaska in December 2010.
Bishop George Connor, AEC

Dear Prayer Partners,

It is heart-breaking to lose a faithful saint and servant of God, which the Rev. John Bylo certainly was; however, God does all things well. Whatever the will of God is concerning our lives and our rewards is a matter to be accepted, even if with tears, by the righteous. I had the privilege to know John+ and to know his heart that was a good and warm heart. (J.Ogles)


Thursday, June 27, 2013

27 June 2013 - Special Prayer Request


In need of a miracle or understanding of God’s Plan
John Bylo recently underwent radiation treatment and then surgery for esophageal cancer. Following his surgery, he was readmitted because of pneumonia almost immediately to UCLA Hospital in the Los Angeles area. Currently he is unconscious, sedated, and on a ventilator.  Things do not look good at present.  Please pray for a miraculous recovery for John or a good transition to his home with our Father.  Pray in particular for his wife Debe and their family. 

John is a Rev Canon in the Anglican Episcopal Church on the staff of St. George's Anglican Church, Ventura, CA. He also has worked diligently in theological education and church planting in the Southwest, and so was appointed Missionary Canon with Special Responsibility for the States of California, Nevada, and Alaska in December 2010.
Bishop George Connor, AEC

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Devotion on Proverbs (Chapter Fourteen – Part Two v10-13) – 26 June 2013, Anno Domini




10 The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. 11 The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. 12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. 13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. (Prov 14:10-13)

            I must apologize for making this a four or five part devotion on Proverbs 14, but even minimal justice cannot be done in a two part series. This is a particularly powerful chapter that merits a methodical study of its constituent parts. I hope and pray that all who read will apply due diligence to confirming all of the scriptural text, personally, that I have referenced in the devotion. There is great power in the direct reading of the Word of God from the Source itself - much more power than a simple quoting of it by mortal hands.

            An excellent scriptural reference with which to begin our devotion today would be: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal 5:22-23) You will note that there is an abject lack of charismatic fruits listed, or even tithing or public piety. Of course, spiritual fidelity to church, friends, and neighbors is encompassed by these less presumptive gifts of love and joy. The one fruit that I wish to emphasize, pursuant to our text today, is JOY!

            10 The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. This one verse incorporates volumes of understanding if we could but glean full meanings from a single sitting. No one can order our joys or sorrows for these are commodities that exist in the hidden man's heart. On every major city sidewalk, there are pedestrian who walk daily with intense sorrow in their hearts and a smile on their faces. We often cloak our sorrows with a smile. But it is unlikely that we would cloak our joys with a frown. What is true joy, and where may it be found? Joy is founded, not on present victories, but future prospects. Joy is a function of HOPE. Our greatest joy should always be anchored in the future promise of all that God has in store for those who love and obey Him. Even if our shoulders are heavy with the burdens of life, and our hearts filled with present sorrows, our hope in Christ mitigates all such sorrows and burdens. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalms 30:5) There will always be a brilliant sunrise after every dreary and dark night. There will always be a bright and beautiful sun to shed its effulgent rays of warmth and light upon the hearts of men. Remember, God began Creation in Darkness and finished it in Light - "...and the EVENING and the morning were the first day, etc."

            As the Apostle Paul has told us, there is even joy to be had in tribulation: "... I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation." (2 Cor 7:4) Can you imagine the hope-filled joy of the Wise Men when they left Jerusalem and again spied the Star? When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (Matt 2:10) There can even be joy at the door of the Tomb of a loved One if that Tomb is EMPTY! And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.  (Matt 28:8) Is it not the great beauty of future promise that most tantalizes our hearts for joy?  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:23) If we are assured of a highway of gold tomorrow, do we not step more lightly upon the muddy ruts of today's earthly walk? Subdued joy often precedes effulgence of joy. The men on the Road to Emmaus were overcome with joy when they met a stranger that explained to them the meaning of the events of recent days, yet, their joy was so strong that they could barely believe the enormity of truth that was about to be revealed:  And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? (Luke 24:41) When the Lord has spoken to your heart in a special and personal way, could you contain the joy?

            Do you have 'fullness' of joy? Is this even a possibility? By all means, it is if we have the faith to believe with great depth of understanding: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:11) If we have the joy of Christ in these inferior vessels of clay, our joy must be full! Having the joy of Christ secreted away in our bosoms, all sorrow will be turned to joy. Do you believe this, Friend? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. (John 16:20) The hope that is fostered by future promise of joy strengthens us to abide all torments - even a rude cross: Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2) It is for this reason that we, today, can enjoy unspeakable joy: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

            11 The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. How is this so? Have we not read the very counsel of Christ? I can add no further meaning to the perfect clarity of the words of Christ: Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matt 7:24-27) If that wicked house is not overthrown according to our schedule, it certainly shall be according to God's.

            12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Which way is it that seems right to man? Is it not the way in which man is not required to live up to his duties and responsibilities? Is it not the way that is downhill and full of many other people of like sinful natures? Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13-14) When we come to Christ, we must come holding nothing back - our old sinful wills must also be exchanged for His perfect will. The "way that seemeth right unto a man" is that way which is sinful and carnal. If we remain on that way, we are marching to our eternal demise. There is also a Way that seemeth right to God. He has told us of that Way, and we had best set our hearts on it: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) This, my friends, is the ONLY Way! For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  (Isaiah 55:8)

            13 Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness. If your heart is in the mud, so will your joy be quenched. To be honest, it is impossible to escape the net of sorrow in this life completely. But we have hope! We have assurance of a future victory! This is the food of joy which the Christian consumes as his daily manna. But the stubborn and proud come not to this table of joy. They will do it, as Frank Sinatra claims to have done it - MY WAY! This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matt 15:8) I wonder what meaning the words of Sinatra's song have for him today? I much prefer the Lord's Way insofar as He gives me the Light to see it. How about you, dear Reader?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Devotion of the Collect for Fourth Sunday after Trinity – 23 June 2013, Anno Domini




Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

O
 GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

            The soaring majesty of the words of Martin Luther's, A Mighty Fortress, come to mind in the reading of this Collect:

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

            This hymn was composed at a time when the protection of God's powerful hand seemed most comforting to those, including Luther, who faced imminent of possible martyrdom. A classical hymn is no less than a prayer put to music. Its words are as immortal as the biblical truths that the hymn puts forth in rhythmic prose.

            Is God your help and fortress. Does He preserve you in the moments of hurt and doubt, and prosper your hand in righteousness during times of prosperity? O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee. We see, not only in this prayer, but in scripture itself, a thing condemned by the world but practiced by God. God profiles and discriminates in his dealings with His people. Those who do not trust in God may not claim the privilege of His protection. He seeks those who have the faith to trust in Him under any and all circumstances of life. Remember that there are only two families and classes among all the people of the earth - past, present, and future - the family of God, and the family of the Prince of Darkness. There is NO MIDDLE GROUND! Trust is all important. We all tend to place our trust in SOMEHTING - our friends, our job, our wealth, or our own hand. But trust misplaced is trust abandoned. Trust is so important to God that He places it in the very center verse of Holy Scripture: "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes." (Psalms 118:9) The national motto of our United States is "In God we Trust." We consider it of such importance that we place it on every coin minted by our government. Sadly, the motto is dead without the real trust that should back both our money and our motto.

            When the storms and billows build upon the seas of your life, you may take courage in the Psalmists words of encouragement and strength: "If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalms 139:9-10) If we have made our election in Christ sure, we may rely upon the promises found in Isaiah: "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (Isaiah 43:1-2)

            I went to visit the father of one of my young church family, a veteran seemingly at the point of death, just this past Saturday evening., The man's body was emaciated and he had a breathing tube in his throat and multiple IV's attached. He seems lifeless as he lay there struggling for every breath. I spoke softly to him and there was only a glimmer of understanding on his part. After reading the 91st Psalm to him, he suddenly opened his blue eyes, looked me in the face and grasped my hand. His tongue was swollen and protruding from his mouth. He could not speak though I sensed he had something to say. After a prayer for God's will to be worked in the body of this poor soul, I left under the impression that I may never see him again this side of Jordan Waters - but I did! The next evening, a relative of the man called to say that he had undergone a remarkable improvement. I visited him again on Monday to find the breathing tube removed and the man able to talk. I do not how much was due to my prayer, but I do know that the man had taken heart at the words of God in the 91st Psalm. He had heard words that he KNEW he could place his trust in - and he has revived to the astonishment of the hospital staff who had previously suggested taking the man off all life support. Even as the jaws of death enclose us, we have the privilege to call upon our Lord of all help.

            ". . . without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy." Apart from God there is NOTHING! There was only a void where the earth now stands, and even the void was created by the Word of God. There is NO LIFE apart from His loving provision. So there can be NO STRENGTH apart from God. He is the PRIME MOVER and SUSTAINER of all things. And can there be holiness apart from God.  None whatsoever, for there are none righteous - no not ONE! There can be no holy thought, no holy ground, apart from a Holy God to provide it.

            "Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy" God's mercy is as abundant as a gushing fountain. We can never reach a point when we believe we have had enough. It continually flows forth and bathes us in its resplendent waters of light. If we magnify our Lord, He will magnify His mercies upon us. ". . . that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal." Do we not pray to get through the fires of life un-scorched? In the burning building, as in the world of smoke and mirrors, we desperately seek the way that leads to safety. We may grope and stumble until the fires consume us because we have no Guide in the fires. But we do have a strong Guide and Ruler who is our King and Sovereign. His eyes are forever on His own. He will go through the fires with us, sheltering us with His wings, and bring us, unscathed, to safety. But we must keep our hand, and our trust, in Him during the danger. Those things of the world may cause us to break hold of Christ and wonder into places that lead us to perish. Can we cast aside the false glitter and dim lights of this world and keep our focus fixed on that Light that never fails. If we are able to persevere to the last, we shall be saved to enjoy the splendor of Heaven.

            How can our saving mercies be granted on behalf One who has already gained the Kingdom of His Father? How is Christ profited by our grant of mercy? "Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord." The very dying desire of Christ was that we might be saved. His ordeal of torture and earth was all for us. He purchased our salvation with His atoning death if we will only place our trust in that mighty Salvation! It is for the sake of His Son that God the Father will admit us into His Heaven as pure and righteous sons of God.  Have you placed your absolute trust in Him, Friend?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sermon Notes - Fourth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 23 June 2013, Anno Domini





Fourth Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

O
 GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle 
Romans viii. 18-23
I
RECKON that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

The Gospel 
St. Luke vi. 36-42
B
E ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

            In a world that places a very high premium upon achievement and performance, we are often misled, even by our clergy, to believe that our works are the means by which we are saved. The modern church emphasizes giving almost to the exclusion of all other considerations. The rich man, or woman, will be rewarded with honors and positions of responsibility even if their daily lives do not reflect that Spirit of which Christ spoke. Perhaps the poor widow that spends all of her available time in cooking for the sick and homeless will be forgotten in the perishable minds of men, but shall be more highly remembered and favored in the Infinite Mind of God. God gives us many hints of His Will to be fulfilled in Christ in the midst of the Old Testament. The people of Israel were living as they pleased and believing that all their sins were remitted by the sacrifices of the wealthy. But God counseled: For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6) The money-changers of the modern temple would have us persist in believing that we can BUY God's favor while living as we please, but it was NEVER so. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalms 85:10) Mercy and truth are husband and wife – inseparable! If we will have mercy, we must accept truth with it. As Jesus told the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well, ". . . the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23) `Spirit' is not emotionalism, but love of God and our fellow man. But our love must be directed in truth, for false worship is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.
            As we read in our biblically-oriented prayer of Collect, God is the protector of all who trust in Him. We can claim none of God's protection apart from the measure of trust we place wholly in Him. Without God, we have no strength at all, and our righteousness is as filthy rags. Apart from God, there is no holiness to be had. We lean upon God for His increasing mercies in His Sovereign Rule over us, and to Guide us through the Wilderness of Sin of this present world. Only God can show us the safe and righteous way – we cannot find it alone. In avoiding those things that worldly, we are amassing to ourselves those treasures that are heavenly. These are the Godly petitions we repeated from today's prayer of Collect.
            In our Epistle for today, taken from Romans 8, we discover that there is groaning of the mortal soul that is inclined to the Holiness of God. Such a struggle and groaning is forever present with us until the curtain of time is lifted and time shall be no more. It is not a sorrowful groaning, but an intense desire to see God's will worked out on earth as it is in Heaven according to that prayer the Lord taught us to say.  When sorrow and misery befalls the stranger to God, hope is forlorn and there is no brilliant Light upon which he may fix his eyes from the darkness that engulfs his wretched soul. But the child of God embraces the Light even more earnestly as the dark circle surrounds him, or a loved one. He knows, innately, that the Light is his destination and not the dark fires of Hell that seem to presently surround him. ". . . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalms 30:5b)
            Our Gospel text calls us to a higher standard of life and Spirit than a rigid adherence to the law can afford. If perfect obedience were possible, there would be no need of mercy; but we can never be perfect keepers of the Law of God, therefore, we must have mercy if we are to be accounted blameless and righteous in entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
            Consider the great pardon and mercy shown to us through the substitutionary death of Christ! He suffered that we might forego the eternity of Hell. We should rightfully be punished for our life of sin, yet Christ died in our stead that we, accepting His Lordship, might be pardoned and forgiven. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. This is a mighty admonition to us, for we can never be as merciful as God has been toward us. But God would have us to take on the very nature of mercy in our dealings with others. Though a child can seldom match the understanding of his father or mother, he will nonetheless mimic the nature he sees in his parents. That is what God desires of His children today.
            37  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven So many good Christians misunderstand this to mean that Christian judgment is forbidden. Nothing could be further from the truth. The meaning to us is this: We should not judge with our personal judgments, but with the righteous judgment of God as evidenced in His Word. Jesus Christ gives us commandment that is clear: Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24) We are not only to judge from the heart, but also judge only by the measure of God's judgment and not our own. If God has declared a certain behavior sin, that is not OUR judgment, but God's. Simply declaring God's condemnation of a sin is not our PERSONAL judgment, but HIS! Remember the debtor to the king whose great debt was forgiven by the king and, who, after went out and took a man by the throat who owed him a small sum, threatening to sell his wife and family into slavery?  He was forgiven a fortune, but refused to forgive his own servant a small debt. How merciless was he! Are we not the same? The King of Glory has forgiven us an enormous debt, and a multitude of debts, yet we refuse to forgive those who offend us in the slightest measure.  
            38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. It is not possible to give more than God has given, for He immediately replenishes our bottles of oil the moment we pour out our blessings to others. There are blessings that cannot be measured in simple terms of a piece of bread for a piece of bread. Our giving of bread to the poor is multiplied in return value a thousand times. Our souls have rest and a good conscience thereby. Peace of mind is a possession not enjoyed by the greedy.
            Can the blind lead the blind? Of course they can! It is happening in 90% of America's churches today. Ministers, blind to the love and Spirit of God, are leading their blind disciples ever nearer the gaping abyss that awaits all who do not hear with clarity the voice of God. 39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? This is a parable of Jesus that has profoundly present implications. Our seminaries have been turned from a concentrated focus on the Word of God to an obsession with church growth, conflict resolution, seeker friendly programs, and, yes, MONEY schemes! If the lay Christian is NOTR blind (informed deeply by the Word of God) it is not likely that he can be led by the nose by a blind guide.
            Do you know that there are theologians today who believe that they are better informed of God's Will than Jesus Christ? It is true. There are those among the despicable movement called "Higher Critics" who believe that textual analysis and archeological digs have revealed to them information that Jesus did not have while on his earthly ministry. They obviously discredit Christ as the Son of the Living God, and God Himself! Their new bibles attempt to alter the evidence to support their intentional errors. 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. I once disputed with a local minister who claimed that speaking in tongues (nonsensical babbling) was required for salvation. We argued the issue endlessly. Finally, I asked, "Is Jesus Christ our perfect example in all things?" Of course, the minister answered in the affirmative to which I followed up, "Do we have any evidence of Jesus EVER speaking in an ecstatic and incomprehensible tongue?" The man REFUSED to answer. If we will have perfect religion, and undefiled, let us be as much like Christ as our earthen vessels will afford.
            How many clergymen preach against the sins of lying, stealing, adultery, etc., and harbor those sins in the dark chambers of their own hearts? Of course these sins are condemned by God; however, we must not judge others by a stronger measure than we apply to our own conduct. If we criticize the housekeeping of a neighbor, let us first sweep the trash and filth from our own floors. 41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
            If we are to have authority as men and women of God, we must see that we follow Christ in love and truth. We not only pronounce the truth of God's Word to others, but we must make that truth the rule of our own lives. Owning the Spirit of Love and Truth, we shall walk the Valleys and Mountains with our eyes open to the presence and company of God.